Counting your blessings really does help put things into perspective. I was overwhelmed by too much to do and too much stuff. I am blessed. Bless You and Merry Christmas.
I am far too exhausted to feel any joy. I pray that once all the preparations are in place I will delight in the true meaning of Christmas. What is the true meaning of Christmas? Leave a comment if you have an idea to share. At this time, I am fantasizing about running away to a far distant land next year and throwing tradition out the window. Instead, perhaps I should consider emphasizing more spirituality and less materialism.
Ellie was afraid I wouldn't have time to help bake for the K-Kid's bake sale. Then insisted that she could make the rolled butter cookies from start to finish all by herself with no help from me. She did it! I guess that doesn't make her an apprentice, more like a master chef!
My studio, not so much. Since I have been able to work from home a little, this has become my home office. I finally settled into the idea this past week. Instead of a massive amount of production work, I happened to have a very fun (Christmasy) design project. I was able to beat the school bus home and then finish up what I started, plus clock a few extra hours. Nice. Looking forward to squeezing in some painting, but not until I get through the holidays.
Maya came home from school and was excited to tell me that she was learning all about irony in English class. She couldn't remember the song, but knew I listened to it - the one with all the really great examples of irony. Eighth grade. Aren't you going to read "The Gift of the Magi" by O. Henry? I understand the attempt to appeal to the students with something a bit more contemporary, but that story has stuck with me for more than 30 years. It was old-fashioned even when I was a kid. I think we watched a film strip after having read the story. Beep.
When I think of irony, I think of cutting off my hair to buy my husband a chain for his pocket watch only to find that he has sold his watch to buy the fancy hair combs that I always wanted. But now I have no hair. What a beautiful, romantic story of love and sacrifice.
And when I think of the song by Alanis Morrissette, I think the only irony is that there is not one good example of irony in the whole song. Rain on your wedding day? People say it's good luck just to make you feel better. Good advice that you didn't take equals poor judgement. Meeting the man of your dreams and then meeting is wife? It was never meant to be, Honey. A black fly in your Chardonnay? That's just gross. Ten thousand spoons when you need a knife? Dumb luck. I really like the song and I really like the teacher, but I just don't see the irony here.
And so I came up with my own example for Maya. I was going to report on how much I have learned from Cesar Millan and how successful my efforts have been dealing with separation anxiety. I was ready to state that I have completely rehabilitated Lucky. But, my part-time job went full time with overtime so guess what? Relapse. No time for adequate doggy exercise and much longer periods of separation. And as the Dog Whisperer will tell you - the dog reflects your energy. I have not been able to maintain my new calm assertive stature. My job has increased my anxiety level to maximum capacity. I feel so stressed out, maybe I'll start gnawing on the front door?
We traveled to Orlando with the high school marching band. They marched on Main Street at the Magic Kingdom. Here comes the band! The moment we've been waiting for! The reason for the whole trip! My camera battery is dead?! Before leaving, I wasn't concerned with the possibility of my battery running low. I've had my nice big camera for a year now and only had to charge the battery once so far. But, you would have thought that I could have learned my lesson as the last time I lost power was waiting for Darrin and Ellie to cross the finish line at a 5k race. Okay, now I've learned. I didn't quite capture the memory of marching with this photo, but I did get a few photos of the first 2 of 4 days of park hopping. I probably never would have taken my kids to Disney World. I am not enamored by the whole "magical" experience as the rest of the world seems to be. Driving home from the high school at 11:30pm last night, I thanked Maya for taking me there. We had a great trip and it was a great experience for both of my girls: Maya for being responsible, independent and an accomplished musician, and Ellie for being a brave little coaster rider. They both surprised us with their calm and cool sense of adventure.
Change is good, but sometimes unnerving. Here is the view from my window. This is much better than the pothole-filling band-aid solution most roads get. We are getting a whole new street. Our older neighborhood is ready for new sewer, water lines, curbs and sidewalks. It will be lovely. But, everyday for the past 6 weeks I've had to listen to heavy machinery, walk through debris to get in an out, and worst of all - feel the entire house shake. I fear that my foundation and plaster walls are going to start to crumble. Today I was really late for work because I have to walk around the block to get to my car. One of my neighbors caught me and we chatted for quite a while about the details - such as the change in slope at the end of his driveway. Feeling optimistic about this getting done in a timely manner as well as other new big projects I will be taking on myself.
I've tried to blog a few times in the past few weeks, but I couldn't find the words. I've walked the dog to the point of exhaustion – mine, not hers. I wonder if the daily diligence has had some sort of cathartic effect on me? I've been weary and confused. I'm back now with a little more clarity and optimism.
With my clarity, comes this realization... I don't want to be crafter. I've been curious for a long time and now I know. I'll make a few things for pure enjoyment, not in an attempt to make extra cash. I can't stop thinking of how much time I'm spending and how it could not possibly be lucrative, even if it is enjoyable. All the while, running through my head - "if you want to make more money, just work more hours on that part-time job." Ironically, the opportunity to possibly work some of my graphic design hours from home has presented itself. In the past, I had doubted if I would want that or not. The timing on this is perfect. It's going to be good.
And so if you are interested in any of my hand-crafted items, visit the Highland Band Booster Craft Fair in November (and possibly again in March 2012) for my limited edition jewelry and little felt bakery items.
I am beginning to subscribe to "Cesar's Way" and hoping that I will soon be reporting that I have completely rehabilitated this dog. It's been more than a year since we rescued Lucky from the streets. And she is the perfect dog, if not for the severe separation anxiety. According to Cesar Millan, what a dog needs first and most is exercise (especially dogs with anxiety). I am canceling my gym membership as I have lengthened our morning walk to 30-45 minutes. Three miles on the days I don't go to work. The girls share the afternoon walk and I walk her again in the evening for another 20 minutes. Lucky hasn't shown any signs of improvement, but I am exhausted. I still have a lot to learn about taking on the role of pack leader and I am thankful everyday for this beautiful fall weather.
Anyone who knows my family will always remember Ellie's birthday. Yes, on Sunday she will be 10 on the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001. For her school treats she requested what she named "the world's best cupcakes" - my own personal creation. Top a chocolate fudge cupcake with creamy filling (cream cheese, powdered sugar and cool whip) and then a beautiful ganache – and sprinkles, of course. A batch of 24 does not cover it for the class, plus teachers. So April will be getting a few extras as the belated birthday home-made yummy goodness I promised her last week. And again tonight I wondered what it would be like to own a little bakery.
Here is my first designer birthday card – meaning it's a birthday card for a graphic designer. It's sort of a private joke between my friend April and I. But, anyone might enjoy it if you think the use of a certain font can be funny. (or if you laugh at your co-workers choices of ugly fonts)
Yesterday I darted down into the basement to find a smaller metal straight edge than I had in my studio and stumbled across an old sketch book from almost 20 years ago. I was in my mid-twenties and decided to sketch from magazine photos just to keep my drawing skills in tune. I'm sure shortly after that, the idea fell by the wayside and I didn't draw or sketch for years.
It wasn't until after I had kids, that I was inspired to paint - and paint abstractly. Because, well, I just have abstract ideas rolling around in my head.
I shared my sketches with the girls. They were astounded and amazed. The expressions on their faces were of a response initiated by pure magic being performed before their eyes. "But it looks so real!"
What were they thinking? They acted as if it wasn't humanly possible. I'm sure they have seen more realistic/naturalistic work than this before? Are they living in a technological age that assumes nothing is done by hand anymore? Or do they just not know what I am capable of?
It reminds me of a recent incident I had with Maya. This past spring she couldn't get Darrin or Ellie to throw around the softball. "I'll play catch with you Maya." I eagerly blurted. She had a huge grin plus a little smirk on her face and said "Really?" I could see by the look in her eye that she did not believe I could either throw or catch a softball. We went out in the yard and had great fun.
I wonder what other skills or knowledge or wisdom I could reveal that would leave them flabbergasted? Somehow I feel I can gain a little more respect even if only one ounce at time.
I told myself I would start going to bed every night at 9pm and read - or sew. The back to school schedule has started and over the summer I turned into a late sleeping night owl. Here I am at 10pm blogging. I haven't posted in a while, so I thought I would share the 4 felt cupcakes I just finished. They are literally "cup" cakes. The pattern I didn't like had felt glued to a piece of card stock to create the side. I decided, if I cut down a paper cup it would have a nice strong reinforced bottom, too. Worked pretty well. Ellie thinks they are awesome. Maya thinks they are cute, but said "who would buy that?" I told her a little girl that likes to have pretend tea parties or likes to play bakery or kitchen. She thought that made sense.
I always feel I "should" be painting. I have a pop up show next week. I have quite enough work for that, including new pieces. Waiting to hear if I made it into the Salon Show. And, I was offered to hang 3 pieces in a group show at the end of September. I'd really like to create something new and beautiful for that.
I am torn between art and craft these days. Still painting, but I whipped up a felt cupcake. I didn't like the way it went together. On my next one, I won't be following any directions. I have my own ideas on improving the process. The purse was made by Ellie. I am very proud of her careful selection of colors and materials, her newly learned skill of hand sewing, and her follow through to complete the project. She is planning on making more and selling them.
I've spent quite a lot of time in my studio the past few days. A little confused and frustrated. I'm experimenting a lot - which is good. Content and technique? What am I trying to say and how do I say it? I came back to that small piece from yesterday that I didn't care for. Resorted back to green. Scissored up the contour into two separate shapes. Sketched a little more. Threw down a few more watercolor washes. This may have the potential for collage.
I have visions of flat, simplified modern patterns. Last night I worked on the above painting and it inadvertently took a more natural form. I quickly did the painting below today. No pencil drawing first - just doodling with the brush. I thought if I steered clear of green, it would be more stylized, but I don't like the colors. Back to the drawing board.
Today is the first day of a week of vacation. It is oppressively hot out and even though I've spent pretty much the entire day in air conditioning – I feel lethargic and lazy. The longer I moped around, the more difficult it was to begin anything. I couldn't let a day pass without having something to show for it. So at 9pm I whipped out my first attempt at little eraser hand carved stamps. I didn't plan anything. I just did quick doodles right on the eraser and had the first one carved in about 1 minute. I knew when I did get around to making one, it wouldn't be about an independent single object, but a piece of something bigger like non-repeating patterns.
I had questioned the labeling of broccoli and kohlrabi. There is a chance I was mistaken on that one, but the four pepper plants I bought most certainly said "sweet bell." Don't know why this plant never grew any bigger? It did grow a pepper, which looks like some sort of Hungarian banana pepper. I watched it each day. Then, yesterday it was gone. I can't imagine a raccoon or any other critter wanting to eat a pepper? I guess that critter changed his mind because I located my one pepper in the yard about 15 feet from the plant, slightly nibbled, but pretty much intact.
Today I stopped at a greenhouse for some end-of-the-season bargains. I got some great deals plus a FREE flat of vegetable plants! All they had left was peppers. That was fine with me. It is a little late to be getting them in the ground, but the hot pepper plants in their small containers have already grown enough for the pickin'. And, I could verify that the sweet bells are, in fact what they say they are.
I tend to have many creative ideas that I do not act upon. For years I was fine with that - letting ideas fizzle and fade away. I am no longer fine with that. I am happy creating and unhappy not creating. Simple as that. So when painting feels too daunting or serious, I've decided to have fun with felt and embroidery and mini little bits of cuteness.
I imagined when I started working part-time that I would spend hours everyday making things like this. You know, while toddlers sat quietly on the floor and stacked blocks for hours? Yeah. That never happened. So now my little girls have almost outgrown this sort of thing and I am trying to catch up with that old idea before it completely fades. It is because they are bigger that I can find the time to do it. They are growing so fast that Ellie is turning into an entrepreneur and my production manager. Our plan is to someday sell at a local craft fair. She has been very busy making her button rings and when she finds me browsing on Etsy, she says "Mom, stop looking at art and start making some art." She started out much more productive than me and told me I had lots of work to do. I'm getting there.
[Flowers for barrettes and hair clips.]